SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 93
October 28, 2003

ACCESS TO CRS REPORTS (TEMPORARILY?) CURTAILED

Publicly accessible links from congressional web sites to an internal database of Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports suddenly went dead last week without explanation. But they may yet be restored.

For about three years, the Congressional Research Service has provided online public access to hundreds of selected reports through a portal like this one:

No longer.

The publicly accessible CRS portals were part of a "pilot program," explained a congressional staffer in Rep. Green's office. "The pilot program has just expired." Goodbye, CRS reports.

But fortunately, there's more to it than that.

Members can still opt to provide public access through their websites to the internal database of selected CRS reports, explained another staffer from the House Committee on House Administration. Or they can provide online access to individual reports of special interest, as they see fit. In either case, they must make new arrangements through the Administration Committee.

FAS has written to Rep. Mark Green (R-WI) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) asking them to restore at least the same level of access to CRS reports that their web sites have provided for the past three years.

A selection of recent CRS reports on aspects of national security policy, including some that were never presented in the public database, is available on the FAS web site here:


EMBARRASSED ARMY WEB SITE GOES OFFLINE

The Army has taken one of its popular web sites offline after the Washington Post reported on a critical account of U.S. intelligence posted on the site.

The web site of the Center for Army Lessons Learned (call.army.mil) was promptly disabled following a Post story about an "unusually blunt" report on the inadequacies of U.S. military intelligence in Iraq.

"We're doing some maintenance" on the site, an Army spokeswoman at Fort Leavenworth told Secrecy News initially. She then acknowledged that the move was prompted by the Post story on October 25.

The web site should be back up by the end of the week, she said, but the report cited in the Post story "will not be available."

However, the report itself, on "Observations from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom," from the October 2003 CALL Newsletter, has been helpfully posted by the Washington Post here:

A copy is mirrored here:

It was first reported in "Intelligence Problems in Iraq Are Detailed" by Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, October 25:


NAMES OF DSB MEMBERS TOO SENSITIVE FOR WEB

The Defense Science Board (DSB) is part of a network (one wants to say "cabal") of interlocking advisory panels that play a significant but obscure role in the formulation of U.S. national security policy.

"The Board and its members have considerable influence," observed freelance journalist Michael Flynn, who has been investigating the subject, "and they seem to have a stake in the policies they advocate."

Who is on the DSB? It takes some digging to find out.

The Defense Science Board web site includes a link to "Members," which used to provide a complete list of the membership. But today the link is dead. See:

"The information listing DSB Members was deleted from the DSB web site based on DoD guidance for Web Publishing Security following the 9/11 terrorist attacks," said a DSB spokesman in an email message.

He didn't explain how deleting the names of corporate CEOs and others who advise the government on defense policy was likely to increase security against terrorism.

But he did courteously provide a copy of the current DSB membership, available here:

In fact, Michael Flynn pointed out, the names of DSB members, like those of most other such advisory groups, are public information and have been posted on the web all along, although they are rather hard to locate.

See the Federal Advisory Committee Act dababase on Fido.gov (to get to the DSB listing, click on "explore data" and then on "Department of Defense"):


WHITE HOUSE WEB SITE BLOCKS SEARCH ENGINES

The White House is blocking search engines from accessing much of the White House web site, particularly web pages relating to Iraq. As a result, these web pages cannot be directly accessed through common search engines such as google.com.

The White House employs a "robots.txt" file which "disallows" search engine access to over a thousand specified directories. See:

The matter was first noticed and discussed on this web page:

Say, for example, that you want to find the White House web page where President Bush made this remarkable statement on October 3:

"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."

You can't get there from Google, because the page is blocked. [Note added 10/29/03: This is an error. The page was not blocked. See SN, 10/29/03] But it's here:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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